By Ben Temperley
This past summer, the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC) Master of Architecture students worked on a project entitled the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum. In preparation for our design, we took a trip to Springfield, IL to study the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM). The trip was informative and gave us a chance to explore other sites of interest in Springfield.
The ALPLM was designed by the architecture firm HOK. It was dedicated in April 2005. It consists of two separate buildings-the library and the museum. The exterior of both is clad in a tan-colored limestone from Egypt. The entrances of the library and museum each feature a rotunda similar to the dome of the Old State Capitol in Springfield. The design is a mix of traditional and modern.
Our class first toured the library. The library is primarily a research facility. It contains material related to many aspects of Illinois' history. The interior contains beautiful art glass. It has a Prairie Style feel to it. Across the street, the museum contains exhibits and galleries.
The Plaza in the center of the museum is a great place for photographs. You can have your picture taken with life-size statues of the Lincoln family. In the background is the facade of the south portico of the White House. The galleries and exhibits cover Lincoln's life from a boy, to a young lawyer in Springfield, and through his presidency. I particularly enjoined learning about his Emancipation Proclamation.
As part of a visit to Springfield, I recommend walking by the Old State Capitol to the Feed Store for lunch. It is a great place for sandwiches and soups. There is also a Cold Stone Creamery nearby-very tasty. You will also want to visit the Dana-Thomas House which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1902. The house is an example of Wright's Prairie Style. The house is two stories but has a one story feel due to its horizontal emphasis and low sloped roof. It would have seemed rather peculiar when it was built as Victorian was more of the fashion. The eaves have a Japanese look about them. They appear to angle upward at the corners, but that is an optical allusion.
There is a lot of history in Springfield. I only touched on a portion It definitely makes for a good day trip. Who knows, it may one day be home to an actual Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum.